Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (692)

Róisín Shortall


692. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice the criteria used and the process followed in deciding the relative strengths and suitability of all candidates in respect of the appointment of judges; if, through the JAAB, expressions of interest by serving judges or other judges who are qualified; if there is a marking scheme or other matrix for this process; the way in which this process is followed in order to ensure fair consideration for all applicants and potential applicants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39164/20]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB) is an independent body set up to identify persons and inform the Government of the suitability of those persons for appointment to judicial office. Its functions are set out in section 16 of the Courts and Court Officers Act 1995, as amended. Under Section 20 of the 1995 Act, all proceedings of the Board and all communications to the Board are confidential.

Eligible serving Judges who wish to express an interest in elevation to positions in the superior courts are not currently required to apply to JAAB. Instead, there is a process whereby expressions of interest may be submitted to the Minister of the day via the Attorney General. Such expressions of interest are received on an ongoing basis and retained for any current or future vacancy that might arise. Every expression of interest from an eligible judge is actively considered as part of this process.

The qualifications required for appointment to the Superior Courts are set out in legislation - Section 5 of the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act, 1961, as amended by the Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995, the Courts and Court Officers Act, 2002 and the Court of Appeal Act, 2014.

In relation to the process, the response from the JAAB was considered in the first instance, in line with the Act. As is standard practice with judicial appointments, having considered expressions of interest from serving members of the judiciary; all other judges eligible for the position; information on their service; and information on the qualifications required, I then proposed a name to Cabinet. In this case, the recommendation was in line with the recommendation of JAAB, following its meeting in March last.

The Government has sole discretion under the Constitution and power under the law as it currently stands to nominate persons of its own choosing, providing they are qualified and eligible for appointment as a Judge.